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Success Stories

The Magic Bus Tours

Fort Collins has an amazing amount of things to see and do. No business, however, had offered a service as fun and forward thinking as Magic Bus Tours to create a unique and educational experience around the local activities.

“When I first started visiting Fort Collins, I loved learning about the local history, lifestyles and culture, but I couldn’t find another bus-tour service in town,” said Michael Murphy, founder and visionary behind Magic Bus Tours. “After moving to Fort Collins in 2011, my goal was to create a multimedia tour company to bring the tour to life while educating people about Fort Collins.”

His vision became a tour company with a 21-seat tour bus painted with whimsical artwork that exemplifies the culture, history, landmarks and environment of Fort Collins. Each tour features multimedia with audio, photos and video to bring a multidimensional perspective to the journey. Currently Magic Bus Tours offers a Fort Collins History Tour with a craft brew tour being added in May, a farm-to-table tour in June, and a ghost bus tour scheduled to start in September.

Murphy started the process to establish the business in May 2012, but knew it would be a big project and wanted to start it right. He turned to the Larimer County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Fort Collins for guidance and discovered a whole lot more.

“The SBDC was an incredible resource and gave me an incredible head start,” said Murphy. “They provided education in accounting, marketing and human resources to help me get past the learning curve and start my business off on the right foot.”

In addition to education, the SBDC also provided Murphy with assistance in choosing the best form of legal entity, how to collect sales revenue, and how to successfully yet cost effectively promote the business.

“I was grateful the SBDC could provide people in the know to improve my success because there were surprising hurdles along the way, such as overcoming regulatory requirements,” said Murphy.

Overall Murphy enjoys knowing that he wakes up each day doing something he loves and making his dream a reality.

“Although it took an insane amount of time to get the ball rolling, it feels good to see this living thing take shape,” said Murphy.

As Magic Bus Tours grows, the business will continue to be local and promote local. Long-term plans for the company include creating field trips for the Poudre School District and establishing a Fort Collins Story Project, a library of local oral history designed to capture stories about Northern Colorado that have shaped people’s lives.

“My advice to others who want to start their own business is to do your homework and connect with the SBDC office,” said Murphy. “They help establish a strong foundation for your business to help ensure it will succeed.”

Magic Bus Tours offers excursions year round with the greatest number of tours offered during the summer months. Many of the tours depart from the Sports Authority parking lot on College Avenue. Private tours can also be arranged by contacting Magic Bus Tours. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit www.themagicbustours.com.

The Cooking Studio

Fifteen years ago, Trish O’Neill took her first cooking class and she was hooked! She began cooking inspired meals from scratch and it soon became her passion. Over the next 15 years she traveled for her career, all the while taking cooking classes as a hobby while on her travels. This cultivated the idea that would eventually bring Trish and her talent to Fort Collins to open The Cooking Studio, a place for amateur cooks,

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August Ink

Taking the leap into entrepreneurialism happens for many reasons and takes you down many roads, as Andrea Daniel has learned. After leaving a full-time job, Andrea decided to begin selling pillow covers on the handmade goods site Etsy, while searching for a job in an unstable economy. Despite a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in public administration, she had trouble finding employment. At the same time, what began as a creative outlet to

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Java Raiz

Need a quick boost of healthy energy? Java Raiz can save your day. Made with organic Flame raisins grown in California and 100% Kona coffee from Hawaii, Java Raiz is a healthy treat you can take anywhere. The ingredients are simple, but extremely good for you. Organic Flame raisins are made from red grapes, which include more antioxidants than a typical (Thompson) raisin. Kona coffee beans are grown in volcanic soil, which provides many more

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Wordsmith Wood Shop

Loveland area couple Gib and Lisa Coalwell made a few wooden boxes decorated with sayings but a large order put a toll on their small laser engraver. The owners of Wordsmith Wood Shop needed to hire staff, get three more engravers and quickly learn manufacturing on a large scale. The couple blends handcrafted wood and engraved words to create heirloom boxes, bookmarks, recipe cards, coasters, magnets and cutting boards for their wholesale, retail and individual

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Rocky Mountain Westy

You don’t often see a growing business based on a product that hasn’t been made in almost 20 years, but twin brothers Mike and Greg LaBate built this at Rocky Mountain Westy (RMW). RMW designs, manufacturers, and sells camping and lifestyle parts to Volkswagen Vanagon “Westy” van enthusiasts and service centers worldwide. These products help the van owner upgrade or convert the Westy van, often to performance levels above the original factory model, such as

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Cydney Springer Fine Art

Artist Brushes Up on Business, Social Media Skills After 25 years in northern Colorado as a graphic artist, copywriter, and greeting card designer, Cydney Springer put down the computer mouse and took up an artist’s paintbrush. With two years of study under other artists and a lifetime of interest in painting, she set out to capture the beauty and awe of Colorado landscapes. She works with oil paint in an Estes Park studio with windows

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